Hello to all of the absolutely crazy, obsessed, and fanatical pizza lovers (of which I'm proud to say I'm one of them). I previously used an Uuni oven, but I found it too much trouble to use. I picked up a Blackstone oven at Cabela's yesterday. It was easy to put together. I initially hoped that I'd be able to run it from a one pound disposable propane bottle. It seemed to have a lot a heat for the first two or three minutes, but then the flame reduced to about half of what it was, and the built-in thermometer would never get above 300 degrees. I then connected a standard 20 lb. bottle and everything was fine. I didn't have any issues with leaking gas or problems with the regulator.
I pre-heated it at full blast for about ten to fifteen minutes and the built-in thermometer read 450 degrees. I used an IR thermometer to check the bottom stone and it read 880 degrees. My first pizza baked in only 70 seconds. The top looked great but the bottom was overcooked.
For my second pizza I turned down the heat and had a lower stone setting of around 600 degrees. It looked fine on the top, but the bottom was not brown enough. I got better results with a lower stone temp of around 700 to 750 degrees. I baked a total of six pies. Out of six, I was able to get one pie that was very close to having the right amount of browning on both the top and the bottom. I need to experiment more.
It would be very difficult to cook in this oven if you don't have an IR thermometer to check the temp of the lower stone. The built-in thermometer only provides a rough reference. However, it's much easier to cook on than the Uuni because you don't have to keep opening and closing the door (the Blackstone has no door). Also, there's no issue of ash, soot, or the need to constantly replenish wood pellets.
With any pizza oven, of course, the goal is to have the top and the bottom of the pizza properly cooked at the same time.
This remains the biggest challenge with this oven. Although the thermal mass is better than the Uuni, it doesn't have (and certainly can't be expected to have) the thermal mass advantage of a real wood-burning oven that literally weighs a ton. Unfortunately, any oven that heats up and cools down quickly has no thermal mass or thermal stability.
On the right side of my oven, in the area next to the burner, there's a spot (about 5" in diameter) where the paint bubbled and flaked off. I can definitely see that there needs to be some sort of additional heat-shield in this area. I'm concerned that at some point this spot may eventually develop a hole in the steel.
Despite the drawbacks I've noted, I intend to keep this oven. It has a lot of potential. I look forward to experimenting with different temps and techniques (and eating more pizza, too). Many thanks to all of you crazy pizza lovers for your helpful comments and suggestions. Giancarlo.